Smart women don’t get wrinkles

My new book is out. It all started with a flourish this weekend when the Daily Telegraph serialised it (link below).
Publishing a book is a bit like having a baby. There is a long gestation period, followed by the new-born phase where you have to help them along. After a while you just have to let them go and hope for the best.
The good news is, they are unlikely to rebel in their teenage years and the worst thing they can do is refuse to sell.image1
So my new baby is out there, and if you do buy it, I hope you enjoy Smart women don’t get wrinkles. Of course we do get wrinkles, but the point of the book is to minimise them, and also to meet ageing head-on as opposed to just letting it take us over.
I think this is a great time to be ageing. A friend of mine suddenly has a 70 year-old boyfriend and said yesterday “well, of course 70 isn’t old any more”. Imagine saying that even 10 years ago? Look at style icon Iris Apfel gracing our TV screens at 90 in a car ad. Or that Swiss billionaire having twins aged 54. On a more negative note, Japan is suffering from a ‘grey crime-wave’.
If 70 isn’t old any more and you may be called on aged 90 to advertise a car your great-grandchildren will be driving, you need to make sure you are ageing well enough to enjoy life once you get there. And this is what the book is about, not just wrinkles. It’s all about how to stay young, when you get old.
Happy reading!

50 Shades of Frustration

I used to say there is nothing as dangerous as a frustrated author. I should know, because I used to be one. I could barely stand to hear about someone who had had their book published, it would send me into a frenzy of jealousy and frustrated angst. Now that I am a published author though, I see another dangerous breed emerging. Or at least another kind of envy; best-seller envy. OK so I have had one best-seller (Two Lipsticks and a Lover), but best-seller envy comes when you see such publishing phenomena as 50 Shades of Grey overtaking you by millions and then being made into films and changing the life of the author in ways you can only sit and imagine.
Obviously I had to read it to see what all the fuss is about, and more importantly to see if I too could write such a successful book. A few days ago one kind reader compared my book Love in a Warm Climate to another one set here in France. “Her’s is chick-lit without the sex,” he said. “Yours is sex without the chick-lit.” So I figured I could up the ante so to speak and go for full-blown sex-lit next. Best-sellerdom beckoned.
I was amazed at just how bad the book is. And this is not best-seller-envy induced sour grapes talking. It is SO badly written. It reads like it’s written by a teenager, for a teenager. The main character keeps saying things like ‘Oh my‘ which drives me insane. Who the hell (especially aged around 20) says ‘oh my‘? And even more especially when they’re about to be tied up and whipped?
Added to which, she is so typically American I want to scream. She wants “more” from her relationship with the six-pack bearing, hung-like-a-mule, stunningly beautiful billionaire Christian Grey. She practically has a multi-orgasm every time she sees him, he buys her cars, clothes and first editions of classics. He flies her around in a helicopter, and he clearly adores her. But this is not enough for the young lady. She wants to know where the relationship is going, whether or not he loves her, will they have children etc etc. So she leaves him, and is utterly miserable. So is he. Great.
That is where part one ends and although I admit that the story is compelling in the sense that I do want to know what happens and exactly how he ended up so mad, I am not prepared to read part two because if I see one more ‘oh my‘ it might just tip me over the edge. But if you do know what happens, please feel free to tell me.
As to emulating the book to create my very own publishing sensation, well as far as I can see the key ingredients are a thwarted relationship and lots of sex. That shouldn’t be too difficult….
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012.

Book Club Abu Dhabi style

I flew back here yesterday and almost immediately had to go to a meeting of my book club, not the one I created, but one I was asked to join just a week ago.

The book under discussion was We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver. This is a book that had sold over one million copies, been translated into just about every language you’ve ever heard of and is about to become a film starring Tilda Swinton.

There were two key differences between this meeting and most other book club meetings; one it was at a palace and two, the author was there. Lionel Shriver herself showed up and talked to us about her life, her books, the writing process and much more for over an hour. Amazing.

She seemed really nice; very expressive and fun, and clever (as you would expect). I was longing to ask her all kinds of detailed questions about writing, plotting, character and so forth. I remember being in such awe when I read ‘Kevin’ and thinking I will never be able to write a book like that. She did say she had the whole plot worked out before she began. I was still deciding the ending of my book when I wrote it.

London was great; I was on TV (The Vanessa Show, March 11th, if anyone can be bothered to do so, please upload it to Youtube so my poor deprived children can watch it, we can’t access it from here), lots of radio shows and today there was a gossip piece in the Independent on Sunday today. The book had sold out at Waterstone’s on the King’s Road the second day I was there which was very exciting. We will know latest sales figures tomorrow.

It was great to see everyone and London was sunny – which is probably even more unusual than a best-selling author showing up at your book club.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011

Going, going, gone…..

Because I use this blog in part as a diary, I am going to post a speech my deputy made today and show you the glorious cake the magazine team had made for me. I just don’t want you to think I am trying to show off. But it was too lovely a gesture not to keep…obviously I cried.

Here is the cake

Here is Rick’s Speech:
Helena, you wear us out.

You are a whirlwind.

We don’t know how you do it.

You’re a wife, a mother … a tennis player, a yoga practitioner … a
beauty spy, a trier and a tester … a fashion and style icon with
your signature leopard print and pink … a writer, a ghostwriter, an
editor …

We don’t know when you sleep.

Your unflagging energy and tireless commitment to excellence inspire,
ennoble, charm, delight … and only occasionally infuriate us.

We congratulate and celebrate with you on the publication of your
latest novel — and we tell you that our relationship with you is one

Love in a Warm Climate.

Here I am with the cake:

And this is what is left of it now….

Let’s hope book stocks are depleted as fast…yum.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011

Read all about it…….

From today’s Daily Mail….I am a novelist! Finally!

Novelist Helena Frith Powell writes, in her latest work, Love In A Warm Climate: ‘Johnny was tall, about six-foot-two, and well-built.

But he had the most delicate hands, like a pianist’s – small with elegant fingers. Sometimes I had to stop myself looking at them and wondering what they would feel like over my body…’

A friend of Miss Frith Powell confides: ‘Johnny is based on the chef Marco Pierre White, whom she knew when they were teenagers. There was no impropriety.’

Be that as it may, I notice the launch party is at Marco Pierre White’s on March 10.

Read more:

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011


Love in a Warm Climate is out now, available in the 3 for 2 at both Waterstone’s and Smith’s. I urge you to buy it please, not only to see which character you think is based on whom (!) but to ensure I can afford to keep Leo in football boots, Olivia in laptops, Bea in chocolate biscuits and, most importantly, myself in matching underwear….

99 and counting

OK so not that I have been OBSESSIVELY checking my amazon rating but I just want to say, for the record, in case this is as good as it gets that I am 99. And here is the proof: cut and pasted just seconds ago:

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (30 April 2009)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0007289545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007289547
  • Average Customer Review: No customer reviews yet. Be the first.
  • Sales Rank: 99 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books)

I am now going to get back to work. I promise not to look again until tomorrow. And if it’s got worse I can just look at my blog and remember my glory days…….

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

The sound of sneezing

So, it gets worse. Yesterday I woke up practically unable to breathe without my nose running. By 9am I had used a whole box of tissues. At 12pm I was due at an event at the Swiss Ambassador’s residence organised by his wife.

“I love all your books,” she said. “It would be such fun if you could pop along.”

Never one to let my readers down I heave myself off my sick bed and drive to her, very posh and large, residence. I know I have arrived as the speed bump outside the villa is painted red and white. I walk up to the front door and open it expecting everyone to be out in the garden or elsewhere. I walk into a room with perhaps 40 wives of ambassadors listening to a talk which, it immediately becomes apparent as the Swiss ambassador’s wife manouvers me and my box of tissues towards a chair centre-stage, I am meant to be part of.

I see To Hell in High Heels prominently displayed. I wonder if Two Lipsticks is there and frantically try to remember if I wrote anything about how a French woman would cope with a constantly running nose and Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer look.


“I would like to introduce the famous English journalist and writer, Helena Frith Powell,” says Yael from the Clinique La Prairie who is leading the presentation and looking totally perfect in a little black dress and delicate heels. I sneeze. The Ambassadors’ wives look unimpressed. I don’t think my appearance did much for book sales.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

To Hell in High Heels

To Hell in High HeelsIt really was to hell in high heels when I finally left the launch party wearing my gorgeous red snakeskin Fratelli Rossetti stilettos. After three days of tottering around London in high heels there is not a part of my feet that doesn’t hurt. But it was all worth it.

Yesterday was pretty perfect. It started with TV, then went on to shopping, a massage and a sleep, and ended with a lovely party. Actually it ended for me after the party when I went to BBC London to talk about the book. Then back to the most comfortable bed in town at The Berkeley Hotel.

I am now on the Eurostar heading back home, pondering the high and lowlights of the trip. Highlights are: Getting to the giddy heights of number 21 in the Amazon ratings with To Hell; meeting a woman who interviewed George Clooney (and since you ask, yes, he was everything you could possibly hope, dream and wish for and more); The suite at the Berkeley Hotel with everything you could ever want in a room, including a TV you can watch from the bath and wardrobes that light up as you walk towards them; wandering around London in the sunshine (yes, it was sunny for FOUR days, I bet that hasn’t happened since about 1856); stumbling across a sample sale where I found a fuschia pink leather jacket (can you imagine the joy?); seeing so many lovely friends at the party and having Rupert with me for once.

Lowlights; the red sofa on BBC Breakfast clashing horribly with my jumper (you can guess what colour it is); getting stuck in a size 8 dress at H&M and wondering if I would have to call the fire brigade (but as Rina my publicist said “We’ve all been there honey.”); not sleeping (no change there, the international conspiracy continues); getting my high heels repeatedly caught in cracks in the pavement; leaving Knightsbridge this morning and wondering when I’ll be back.

But a highlight will be seeing the babies, Max and Wolfie.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008

Pre-requisites for a best-seller

I am doomed to failure. According to an article in this week’s Economist, to write a best-seller you need to be 30, on TV and writing about sex. The biggest selling book in Germany at the moment is apparently all about female fantasies and written by a TV presenter.

This is not news to me. When I saw the head of book serialisation at the Sunday Times at the Christmas party in December he suggested I might like to emulate Petite Anglaise and write about being in love, pregnant and unmarried in France. I pointed out that this could prove tricky as I am almost over the age when anyone sane has children, and married with three of them.

My female fantasyToday while I was in Paris I had tea with Michael Booth, a writing friend of mine who has just written a very funny book about cooking called Sacre Cordon Bleu. As I was on my way to London for a publicity tour for To Hell in High Heels we discussed how one sells books and agreed that TV is the way forward. So I am on the Eurostar, heading for London armed with ideas for TV shows featuring moi. Now all I need is to turn 30 again and think about something do write about linked to sex.

I think the former may be easier than the latter. I can’t think of a single female fantasy, let alone enough for a whole book.

My publicity tour is not going well. So far I have an interview with BBC Radio Lancaster and, er, that’s it. But I am having my teeth whitened and my eyebrows threaded at Harvey Nicks and going to spend a lot of time I should be doing interviews exploring the underwear at M&S. So when I finally do make it onto telly I will look suitably glam.

Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008